Battleships, aircraft carriers, minesweepers and submarines from 25 nations are converging on the strategically important Strait of Hormuz in an unprecedented show of force as Israel and Iran move towards the brink of war.Western leaders are convinced that Iran will retaliate to any attack by attempting to mine or blockade the shipping lane through which passes around 18 million barrels of oil every day, approximately 35 per cent of the world’s petroleum traded by sea.In preparation for any pre-emptive or retaliatory action by Iran, warships from more than 25 countries, including the United States, Britain, France, Saudi Arabia and the UAE, will today begin an annual 12-day exercise.The multi-national naval force in the Gulf includes three US Nimitz class carrier groups, each of which has more aircraft than the entire complement of the Iranian air force.
The carriers are supported by at least 12 battleships, including ballistic missile cruisers, frigates, destroyers and assault ships carrying thousand of US Marines and special forces.
The British component consists of four British minesweepers and the Royal Fleet Auxiliary Cardigan Bay, a logistics vessel. HMS Diamond, a brand-new £1billion Type 45 destroyer, one of the most powerful ships in the British fleet, will also be operating in the region.Many within the Obama administration believe that Israel will launch a pre-emptive strike against Iran’s nuclear facilities before the US presidential elections, an act which would signal the failure of one of Washington’s key foreign policy objectives.“The Iranians need to understand that the United States and the international community are going to hold them directly responsible for any disruption of shipping in that region — by Iran or, for that matter, by its surrogates.”
What began as a small protest against an amateurish film mocking and maligning the prophet Muhammad has mushroomed into a full-scale international crisis, with anti-Western violence spreading to more countries over the weekend and al-Qaida trying to harness the new wave of Muslim resentment.Marine reinforcements have been dispatched to the US missions in Libya and in Yemen since the attack Tuesday night on the US Consulate in Benghazi, which resulted in the death of Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other American personnel.
The United States has ordered non-essential embassyto flee Tunisia and Sudan, while Al Qaeda urges worldwide terrorist attacks on the American and Western targets as the fundamentalist Islamic backlash spreads over the “Innocence of Muslims” film posted on the Internet.Sudan has refused an American request that it send Marines special forces to help protect the embassy after protesters attacked it Friday.At least six Americans, including the ambassador to Libya, have been killed since the uprisings and Al Qaeda-inspired terrorist attacks began last week.
Al Qaeda’s call for more violence, as reported by the SITE intelligence Group, is a direct challenge to President Barack Obama’s claim that theof terrorist leader Osama bin Laden was the “beginning of the end” of Al Qaeda.
Terrorists have listed embassies, schools and fastamong their targets, AFP reported.
Sudan won't allow the United States to send a platoon of Marines to protect its embassy from rioting Muslims.
According to a report released by theSUNA state news agency, the country'sformally rejected the request Saturday. agency quoted Sudan's Foreign Minister, Ali Ahmed Karti, as saying, "Sudan is able to protect the diplomatic missions in Khartoum and the state is committed to protecting its guests in the diplomatic corps.”State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland confirmed Saturday in a terse statement that the Sudanese government had “recommitted itself both publicly and privately to continue to protect our Mission, as it is obligated to do under the Vienna Convention. We are continuing to monitor the situation closely to ensure we have what we need to protect our people and facility.
The U.S. decided Friday to send in a group of 50 Marines after rioting Muslim breached at the embassy in Khartoum and entered the compound, which is located outside the city. Speaking on condition of anonymity, a Washington official said the Marines were already on their way to Khartoum when word was received the request was rejected. They were called back, pending further discussions.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Saturday that Iran’s leaders are guided by "unbelievable fanaticism."
Netanyahu's comments, quoted byAFP, were made as part of anto be aired on NBCtelevision's "Meet the Press" on Sunday. Parts of the interview were made available on Saturday.
“I think Iran is very different. They put their zealotry above their survival. They have suicide bombers all over the place. I wouldn't rely on their rationality," Netanyahu said, suggesting Iran cannot be contained in the same way as the Soviet Union during the Cold War.
He added, “Since the advent of nuclear weapons, you have countries that had access to nuclear weapons who always made a careful of and benefit. But Iran is guided by a leadership with an unbelievable fanaticism.”